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Virginia’s Secondary Texting While Driving Law

Virginia’s Secondary Texting While Driving Law

It’s old news: distracted driving in general, and texting while driving specifically, has spread like wild fire since the start of the “smart phone era” some five or so years ago, prompting states nationwide to develop legislation banning cell phone use in varying degrees of severity.

The official government website for distracted driving reports that it takes an average of 4.6 seconds to read or write a text message, meaning that the driver’s eyes are away from the road completely for almost 5 seconds. If the driver is moving at 55 mph, that’s the equivalent of driving an entire football field without taking one look at the road ahead. Texting while driving also increases the chances of an accident by 23 times compared to driving without distraction.

In 2010, around 18 percent of all car accidents in the U.S. were connected to distracted driving in some form. As cell phone use by America’s youth becomes increasingly more common, it is young drivers who may be more likely to text while driving, as they’ve basically grown up with a cell phone in their hand and may be unable to turn it off and keep their eyes on the road. Around 40% of American teenagers have reported that they’ve been in vehicles where the driver was using a cell phone in a manner that endangered other people.

States have responded to the dangerous habit, however, in the form of differing legislation that has banned cell phone use while driving. A total of 39 states have banned all cell phone use for all drivers.

In these cases, the texting while driving ban is what is called a primary law, meaning that an officer can pull over and ticket a driver whose only traffic violation is texting while driving. There is no need for the driver to break any other law (such as speeding) for the officer to make a lawful traffic stop.

In Virginia, things work a little differently. Virginia has a secondary law for texting while driving, meaning that a police officer cannot lawfully pull over a driver who is texting while driving unless the driver is breaking another traffic law (a primary law) that allows the officer to make a lawful traffic stop. Only once an officer has pulled over a driver for a different traffic violation can he or she issue a ticket for texting while driving.

Considering the recent changes to the DWI/DUI law in Virginia this summer that now sees first time offenders installing breathalyzers in their vehicles, as well as the fact that texting while driving impairs the driver just as much, if not more than driving above the legal BAC limit, it’s surprising that we have yet to see the implementation of a more severe texting while driving law.

It may just be a matter of time before texting while driving becomes a primary law in our state. Virginia youth, beware.


Critical Car Accident Highlights Dangers of Distracted Driving

Staunton, VA – June 18 – A life-threatening car accident on Monday left police with even more concerns of distracted driving.

According to official reports by, a man named Don Chodrow was fighting for his life at the University of Virginia Medical Center after being in a serious car wreck on Interstate 81.

Police found Chodrow upside down in his overturned car clutching his cell phone. They believe he was surfing the web when the accident occurred.

Virginia State Police Sgt. K. L. Hyden said teens are not the only ones making these kinds of mistakes.

“Everyone has the potential for driving distracted,” he said.

According to Hyden, the number one cause for car accidents that he has seen is drinking and eating behind the wheel.

Others distractions include cell phones, GPS, radio, other passengers, and other roadside accidents.

Hyden believes Monday’s accident could have been avoided had Chodrow decided not to use his cell phone while driving.

The accident attorneys at Parrish Law Firm, PLLC strongly encourage Virginia drivers to drive with caution and to avoid distractions while behind the wheel. If you or a loved one has been injured in a recent car accident, please contact us immediately for more information. Call 703-906-4229 today.



Ray LaHood Continues Three-Year Battle Against Distracted Driving

Battling distracted driving has been a top priority for U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood for the past three years.

After seeing the dramatic increase of work-zone accidents due to cell phone usage, LaHood is pushing towards a ban of talking and texting while driving, according to official reports by The Washington Post.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) conducted a survey among 409 Northern Virginia police officers who said cellphone use caused one in every three accidents in construction zones. The survey also said that texting was twice as likely to cause an accident than any other driver error.

In addition, nearly 80 percent of respondents said banning cell phone use while driving would drastically reduce car accidents.

According to the AAA, about 210,000 people drive along the Capital Beltway in Virginia each day. Of these people, about half are distracted by cell phones.

In 2009, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said 5,474 people died as a result of distracted driving and 448,000 were injured in similar circumstances.

The New England Journal of Medicine found that a person using a cell phone while driving is four times more likely to be involved in an accident requiring hospital assistance.

Because work zones often have unusual lane changes, lane closures, uneven pavement and narrower lanes, distracted driving is even more risky in those areas.

Although public awareness of the danger of cell phone use behind the wheel has increased over the past several years, studies show that it hasn’t reduced usage.

If you have been involved in a distracted driving car accident and believe you were the victim of a distracted driver, please contact Parrish Law Firm, PLLC for more information. Call 703-906-4229 for a free initial consultation.


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